This is Ismail. He is 17 years old. In 2013, we met Ismail when he first came to our farm in nearby Kigungu, offering his help. Because Ismail is deaf, he had never been to school and was very shy, unable to effectively communicate with the outside world. Although there are schools in Uganda for kids with special needs, such as Ismail’s, his mother was unable to afford such a school.
In 2014, we decided to start helping Ismail by paying his school tuition and covering the cost of transportation to a school for children with disabilities. He studied at this school for four years, coming to Malayaka House nearly every day after school to play with our kids. After a few hours of daily fun, a boda boda (motorcycle taxi) would take him home.
The first-year change in Ismail was huge. With language classes for the deaf, teachers who understood him, and other students in the same or similar situations, he began opening up to the world, smiling, and finding enjoyment in even the littlest things.
When his time at that school concluded, Ismail began interning at the Kampala School for the Deaf, where he remained for three years until the pandemic hit. Since then, he has been home, anxiously awaiting the moment he can return to school.
A few weeks ago, Ismail’s mother called to tell us that he was not feeling well. She said his head was hurting him. Apparently, he had gotten into a fight with an older boy (life is rarely easy for people with disabilities in Uganda), and after taking a punch, he fell to the ground and hit his head on a rock.
We rushed Ismail to the doctor, and a scan of his head revealed a clot in the brain that was rapidly growing in size. We immediately moved him to Nsambia Hospital to see a neurosurgeon, who informed us that Ismail required surgery.
That was last week, and we are happy to say that the operation went extremely well. They had to perform a craniotomy, which involves drilling a hole into the skull to let the blood flow out through a tube. After several days in the hospital, Ismail is now recovering at home.
In Uganda, operations of this nature are not covered by the health system, and the costs are high. Thanks to the kindness and generosity of our supporters, we were able to cover these costs so that Ismail can keep smiling and enjoying life. We are so grateful to our friends around the world for allowing us to help Ismail and others in similar situations. His mother asked us to send a huge THANK YOU on her behalf as well 🙂